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Payment for minor league players and stadium employees in limbo

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Players aren’t paid during spring training. They’re given meal money, but that’s it. That’s not a big issue for big leaguers who make, at the very least, six figures per season. It’s a very big issue for minor league players, who are generally paid less than the minimum wage and often have to work other jobs during the offseason just to live.

Spring training is over for the time being because of the coronavirus pandemic, which means players aren’t even getting meal money anymore unless they’ve elected to stay in camp and keep working out. And they can’t live on that forever.

Baseball is an enormous industry that enjoyed record profits last year. The owners are ludicrously wealthy. And yet minor league players, most of whom did not sign million-dollar bonuses upon getting drafted or being signed internationally, the players who are quite literally the future of the sport, don’t know how they’ll be able to make ends meet.

The owners, and indeed the league itself, could easily create some sort of fund to at least give the players something resembling a wage until the crisis ends. The Rangers told Evan Grant that they’ve spoken with the commissioner’s office about paying minor leaguers during the shutdown, which is good to hear, but nothing has been decided just yet.

Players are traveling home, but they have these guys’ addresses and routing numbers. It’s doable. There’s no excuse to send them home and expect them to keep themselves ready to go at a moment’s notice while also providing no income at a time when finding a job could be extremely difficult.

Teams also have an obligation to help out the low-income workers at their stadiums. No games or events means no work for these people, which means no income. While many NBA owners and players are stepping up to provide for arena staff members, the Detroit Tigers are the only baseball team that has publicly said that they’re going to help their part-time workers. Zach Buchanan wrote an excellent story for The Athletic about these people, who suddenly don’t know when their next paycheck could be coming.

It’s ridiculous that NBA players like Zion Williamson have to step up when the owners of the teams they play for won’t, and it’s shameful that 29 of the 30 MLB teams have been all but silent on the issue. Stadium workers are just as important to the experience of going to a game as the players are. The least teams could do is make sure that they don’t go broke while they wait for crisis to end.

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Cardinals beat Brewers, both clinch postseason berths

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. LOUIS — Harrison Bader tripled and homered to help the St. Louis Cardinals clinch a postseason berth on the final day of the regular season with a 5-2 win over Milwaukee, and the Brewers also earned a playoff spot Sunday via help on the West Coast moments later.

St. Louis (30-28) will be the fifth seed in the NL and open a three-game wild-card series at San Diego on Wednesday. By winning, the Cardinals avoided having to travel to Detroit for two makeup games Monday. St. Louis finished the regular season with 23 games in 18 days as it made up a slew of postponements caused by a coronavirus outbreak in the clubhouse.

“You had to throw some of the expectations out the window not knowing what to expect after taking those couple weeks off and all those doubleheaders and so many new guys,” Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. “It was very different, very fulfilling to make the playoffs.”

The Brewers (29-31) locked up the eighth seed and a third consecutive postseason berth after the Padres beat San Francisco 5-4 in a game that ended about 15 minutes after St. Louis’ victory. The Giants finished with an identical record as the Brewers but lost out on a tiebreaker due to an inferior intradivision record.

“It’s fitting for 2020 and everything we went through,” Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich said. “It felt just as good as past years. This year’s a unique one. There’s so many challenges we had to go through on a daily basis behind the scenes, things you don’t deal with in a normal year.”

Milwaukee will face the top-seeded Dodgers in Los Angeles in a three-game series that also starts Wednesday.

The Brewers haven’t had a winning record at any point this season. Milwaukee and Houston will be the first teams ever to qualify for the playoffs with a losing mark.

“It’s a celebration,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We’re in the playoffs. That’s how you see it. There’s no reason to apologize for getting into the playoffs.”

Cardinals starter Austin Gomber allowed one run, one hit and two walks and struck out three over four innings.

Giovanny Gallegos (2-0), Genesis Cabrera and Alex Reyes combined to pitch the final five innings. Reyes got his first save.

“We’d have been happy getting in as the eight seed,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “We’d have been happy being the one seed, but people can say we got in if there was no expanded playoffs so that’s even another feather in this group’s cap.”

Brett Anderson (4-4) surrendered a triple to Bader and a walk to Tyler O'Neill to start the third inning before departing with a blister on his left index finger. Anderson opened the season on the injured list with a blister on the same finger and did not make his debut until Aug. 3.

Freddy Peralta replaced him a day after being activated from the paternity list, and O’Neill promptly stole second. Kolten Wong then hit a line drive off Peralta’s leg that Peralta threw into right field to score Bader and O’Neill.

Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong each added RBI singles to push the St. Louis lead to 4-0.

After Milwaukee scored in the top of the fifth, Bader hit his fifth home run of the season.

“That was a big counterpunch,” Shildt said of Bader. “Got them on their heels again.”

THREE TIMES THE FUN

Yadier Molina grounded into a triple play in the eighth inning when he hit a one hop grounder to Jace Peterson at third base in the eighth inning. It was Milwaukee’s first triple play since Sept. 23, 2016, when Cincinnati’s Joey Votto lined out to first base. Molina was also the last Cardinals player to hit into a triple play when he grounded out to third base at Boston on Aug. 15, 2017.

TRAINING ROOM

Brewers: Counsell said it was too early to prognosticate Anderson’s status after departing with the blister.

Cardinals: St. Louis president of baseball operations John Mozeliak announced that RHP Dakota Hudson will have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Monday. Hudson went 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA in eight starts before leaving his start on Sept. 17 at Pittsburgh with right elbow discomfort after two innings.

UP NEXT

Brewers: The Brewers head to Los Angeles and will likely be without two of their top starters in Anderson and Corbin Burnes, who sustained a left oblique injury on Thursday.

Cardinals: This will be the fourth postseason series between St. Louis and San Diego, who faced each other in 1996, 2005, and 2006 in the Division Series.